Re-defining home: Lessons from a life uprooted

Home.

Over the years, “home” for me has been defined in many different ways.

My first home was my childhood house in Maryland, where my parents raised me and together laid the foundation for me to become who I am today.

When I left for college, I created a new home in North Carolina where I grew and learned to stand on my own two feet, even if it meant I sometimes fumbled.

I then transitioned to the temporary houses my parents lived in while finalizing their separation and subsequent divorce — none of which ever really felt like home, but they were the closest thing I had at the time.

Graduate school allowed me to recreate home yet again, but this time in a new country: France. I lived in various sized apartments across Paris, some no bigger than a walk-in closet, and constantly bounced between neighborhoods over the span of a decade. The City of Light became the backdrop to a series of temporary homes, each serving a purpose that I could only understand in hindsight.

As I currently settle into my newest chapter of life in the suburbs of Alsace, bordering Switzerland and Germany, I am navigating new languages, cultures and customs while turning a house into a home once more.

After painstakingly creating home after home and eventually uprooting them one after the other, I have come to realize that home is not confined to the structure in which I live. In fact, “home” for me as I once knew it might not exist ever again.

Instead, I now know that home is the place where I feel safe, cherished, understood. Home is where I can breathe a sigh of relief after a long day. Home is where I feel like the best version of myself.

Over the past few years, I’ve realized that my home is…

Sitting on the couch at night, my head tucked into your chest, falling asleep only minutes into the movie I chose to watch.

Walking along the familiar trails of our favorite park as the sun descends across the late summer sky.

Waking up together on Sunday morning with the cats curled up between our legs.

Riding in the passenger seat of the rental car as we hold hands driving across the country.

Discovering a new restaurant that you reserved “just because.”

Cheering each other on at the gym as we push ourselves to our physical and mental limits.

Dancing in the kitchen while dinner is cooking, melting away the stress of the workday.

Placing your hand on my belly as we smile at the little movements, kicks and hiccups that are emanating from within.

Sitting beside you in the doctor’s office, your arm wrapped around my shoulder, reminding me that no matter what happens, everything is going to be alright.

I’ve felt more at home in these moments than in any apartment or house I’ve lived in during the past nearly 33 years. Without even realizing it, as we’ve built our relationship, I’ve been building my forever home — one that will travel with us wherever we go.

Slowly but surely, I feel the pressure being lifted from my shoulders, no longer wondering if we’re making the right decision by creating this next “home” — or any future homes, for that matter. Because now I know that a physical space is always temporary, whereas the roots of the bond we share continue to grow deeper with each passing year.

As we embark upon the adventure of parenthood together, I hope someday we are able to show our little one that home exists wherever you choose to nourish it.

And know that just as I chose you all those years ago, I will continue to choose you today, tomorrow, and every day moving forward. My best friend, my love, my home.

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Amber Christino Jordan

Amber Christino Jordan

Sharing stories of humanity, family and my journey working with marginalized groups. Hoping to help conquer xenophobia with radical compassion.